Pubdate: Mon, 30 Jan 2006
Source: Winston-Salem Journal (NC)
Copyright: 2006 Piedmont Publishing Co. Inc.
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


The methamphetamine problem is likely to get worse before it gets
better, even with a new state law that limits the availability of cold
remedies at the local drug store.

States that have limited distribution of pseudophedrine, an ingredient
in cold medicines that is used in the manufacture of meth, report that
homemade meth manufacturing inside their borders has fallen
significantly. That's the kind of expectation that prompted Attorney
General Roy Cooper to push North Carolina lawmakers to make it more
difficult to buy products containing pseudophedrine.

The same states report, however, that the drop in homemade meth is
being offset by a rise in imports of crystal meth from Mexico. That is
a purer, more expensive form of the drug that causes new problems of
its own. It will be very good news if North Carolina experiences a
drastic decrease in the manufacture of homemade meth like that of
other states. Without easy access to pseudophedrine, the home
laboratories close. This can help solve three of the worst problems
associated with meth production. The first is the cooking of meth in
the vicinity of children. The fumes alone can do them terrible
physical damage. The second is the environmental impact of these
renegade laboratories. The chemicals involved are extremely dangerous.
Finally, when law-enforcement officers raid the illegal labs, their
health is endangered, as is that of emergency-room workers dealing
with meth-related cases.

The good news could be offset by bad news, however, according to The
New York Times. The newspaper reported that when meth addicts switch
to Mexican crystal meth, two new problems arise.

Purer in content than homemade meth, the crystal meth is much more
addictive and dangerous for users. The paper reported that a number of
states are seeing a rapid rise in overdoses. And, while children
aren't exposed to meth fumes, a number of social-service departments
reported that doped-up parents often leave their children without care
for days.

The crystal meth is considerably more expensive. That means that
addicts often must engage in more criminal activity to support their
habits. Law enforcement's job is far from done. America's porous
border with Mexico contributes to the problem, and it must be
addressed. But education programs about the deadliness of meth must
also be devised, and they must be directed at those elements of the
population that would get involved with this debilitating and deadly

Putting the cold capsules out of reach was a good start. Now the drug
dealers have found a way around that move, and that means more trouble. 
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